I’ve spent the past seven-ish years working for a small but constantly expanding non-profit that puts on a traveling festival of Canadian films in high schools. It’s called REEL CANADA. It’s pretty cool. I was the first employee, hired just after the pilot season was concluded, and the organization grew underneath me at a breakneck pace.
It was the first film-related job I had after concluding an inspiring internship at TVO, where my boss gave me one piece of advice. He said: if you want to work in an industry, any industry, then don’t ever work outside of that industry. If you want to work in film, then even if you have to sweep floors to make ends meet, sweep floors at a film studio. I took his advice to heart. But really, I just lucked into the job.
I started out as a sort of general assistant / Girl Friday, but quickly found myself managing operations, and travelling festivals, and all kinds of things in between. After six or seven years of that, I realized I had learned a lot. Probably ten times more than I would have in that same amount of time at a larger organization, where opportunities for growth and advancement don’t come as rapidly as they do at a place where you are literally the first – and for a while, only – employee. And, I also realized that a lot of what I did was exactly what a producer does, just in a different context.
I spent a couple of years transitioning slowly out of my high-responsibility, all-encompassing job, with the vague notion that I would then try my hand at being a producer. I always knew that I loved film but never had the impulse to be a filmmaker myself, so this seemed perfect. I could totally picture myself behind the scenes, putting all the puzzle pieces of how a movie is made together.
When I started this process, I have to admit that I wasn’t 100% sure about exactly what a producer does. I just knew it was similar to what I do. Now that I’m actually calling myself one, I feel much less confused about the issue, but more on that in a future post.
In the past year, my husband (this guy) & I have gone full steam ahead on a full slate of projects, under the banner of Ultra 8 Pictures. I’ve been to Cannes twice with him, mostly as a tag-along movie enthusiast and occasional journalist. This time, I’ve got actual business to do. I’m even accredited under our company (previously, I had to pretend to work for friends of ours who run a festival in the States in order to get a badge).
So, that’s where I’m at. Over the next few days, as I write about my experiences here in Cannes, it’ll be from the perspective of a newbie producer who’s never done a feature film before, but hopes to work on several in the next couple of years.
And, just so you know, I’m not planning to make this site exclusively about my film work, because I have lots of other interests that I enjoy sharing, but the film stuff will probably dominate, especially during intense times like this – or during TIFF, or the Berlinale, or if (when!) I finally go into production on one of my projects.